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Richard Barker

I was born in 1957 in Lusaka, which was the capital of what was then known as Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. I was sent to boarding school in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, at the age of seven and then on to school in Cape Town, South Africa.

In 1972 all of us left South Africa and journeyed by ship to England where, on arrival, my two brothers and I were dispatched off to boarding school once more. I have remained in England all my life and am the father of three beautiful daughters. I now live in the Kent countryside with my wife and our retriever dog.

It was only after my first child was born in 1987 that I became interested in the childhood of my father. I knew nothing about where he was born, who his parents were or what kind of childhood he had had. Dad was English, as far as I knew, and my mother was Swedish. A strange mix one would think. I had no recollection of meeting his father, my grandfather, or my grandmother for that matter.

On a visit to his retirement home in Biscarrosse, just south of Bordeaux, I asked him if he would write a little about his younger life so I could tell my children about him and his family. He said he would have a go and no more was said. He had never spoken to me about his childhood and did not seem keen to do so.

Sadly, in 1992, he passed away. A few years later the subject of Dads' history came up and I asked Mum if he had put anything in writing. She told me that he had and sent me the few notes that he had written. Only 28 pages of foolscap and written by hand.

I read his story for the first time and found myself in tears. I also discovered why he spoke fluent French. I really could not believe what had happened to him and his younger brother during the war. It was incredible that they had survived - and he had said nothing!

It was an amazing journey. I found out much about the war, his father, his mothers' Belgian family and met some of my family that I never knew I had.

The places, the people and most of the experiences told within the pages of this book are true.

This book is his story.


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    At the outbreak of the Second World War, German troops are storming through Europe. Englishman Harry, having settled in Brussels, has to get away... fast! But what of his two young Belgian born sons, Paul and Stephen?

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